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Video games "sandbox" and its potential educational use

May 7, 2021

The videogames sandbox as the well-known Minecraft not only have they been a true phenomenon in the world of youtubersThey also hold important educational potential.

In this article we will explore the wide range of pedagogical possibilities that they present.

The precedents: games in real environments

There is evidence that the game has been part of human civilization from its most remote origins and in all cultures and societies (Gértrudix Barrio and Gértrudix Barrio, 2013), forming an element of interactivity between young people and adults, through which They have been educated and they have learned.

Along the centuries, the game has been changing at the same time as all the different cultures and societies have been doing it , adapting to the material and cultural characteristics of these and adopting very heterogeneous types and types among them.


To give an illustrative example, a few decades ago, many of the elderly people were raised in a rural environment in which the games involved grass animals, such as cows or sheep, since in many cases they had practically no of any object with which to play part of common objects, animals and imagination. Over the years and the arrival of industrialization and mass production, young people went from playing with common objects to playing with dolls and toys, which later introduced small electronic elements that produced sounds or small movements.

At present, thanks to the strong development of new information and communication technologies (hereinafter called ICT), the methods and tools of the game have evolved adapting to this new era, just as they have done during the passage of the previous centuries. This means that the human being evolves and all the elements that surround it also do ; Therefore, we must understand that the young people of this new era are used to living together and growing using ICTs.


The arrival of the pedagogical video game

A basic game element for young people today is video games. As it happened in traditional game modes, we can also educate them through this new tool (which is increasingly followed and used), besides promoting the autonomous teaching of very varied contents and sometimes , of considerable complexity.

The sandbox type video game

Within the wide range of genres of videogames, which can all offer different ways of learning and enhance cognitive skills, there is a genre that stands out among all due to the innumerable possibilities that can be offered: videogames sandbox type.

This genre of videogames is known for offering its players an open world with great possibilities for modification and creation of the environment, as well as following a non-linear argument, where many times the objectives are put by the player himself, thus enabling him to enhance his creativity, encouraging self-narration and the construction of stories and experiences. If you add to this cocktail the social part that they usually include, this type of videogames become a great tool to encourage learning , creativity and, of course, fun.


The limits are put by oneself

Under this new perspective that gives us this genre of video game where the limits are set by the user's imagination, new possible applications of these arise in education and teaching both outside and within the classrooms, thus giving rise to experiments carried out by communities of educators who use a video game of the sandbox genre, called Minecraft, in schools, to perform and demonstrate the benefits generated by the use of these applications.

A good example of the use of Minecraft in the classroom is that carried out by Sarah Kaviar, who in 2013 held a conference at the Progressive Education Network where she showed a project she does with her students in the humanities subject. In it, this game was used to recreate places of worship in the world and then make several games in which they demonstrate their knowledge of those places; giving very satisfactory results in terms of student learning.

The impact of this sandbox video game is of such magnitude that there is an extensive community, both in Spain and abroad, that is dedicated to studying and implementing Minecraft in the classroom to promote the involvement of students in the learning of certain content and in the promotion of creativity and autonomous learning.

Education and entertainment go hand in hand

Following the study of the use of video games for these purposes, the term is born edutainment (Gértrudix Barrio and Gértrudix Barrio, 2013), fruit of the union of the word "education" (education) and "entertainment" (entertainment), on which several investigations have arisen that have demonstrated the great results obtained with the educational use of digital immersive environments, that is, sandbox type video games, which in the words of Sorathia and Servidio (2012): "offer a place for the empirical application of constructivist theory".

The results of these investigations include the quality of the learning process , since it allows students to acquire different perspectives of the phenomena and experience multiple situations in which they acquire knowledge easily transferable to real life (Aldrich, 2009), (Dede, 2009), (Kapp and O'Driscoll, 2010). These teaching applications are possible thanks to the non-linearity of this genre of video games, which makes it easier for the teacher or trainer to personalize and shape the objectives of the game in order to produce a learning and fun experience to the students

Beyond the classrooms

Despite the possible uses that can and are being made by teachers in many areas of the world, the educational applications of sandbox-type video games such as Minecraft are not limited exclusively to the classroom environment under the supervision of an adult. In fact, the simple and apparent playful use of these video games has a strong educational potential in young people , because in most cases, the content of these games and the possibilities offered, are usually very applicable to real life, so that what at first glance may seem like a simple game, can become a surprising experience educational

In addition, both directly and indirectly, The player will be forced to make use of the imagination and therefore to train their creativity , which should be a top priority element in compulsory education.

Another great advantage of the use of sandbox videogames is that the vast majority of them are usually accompanied by an extensive community of online players who promote, through complex codes of conduct, prosocial activity and the feeling of inclusion whatever they may be. the socio-economic differences of the players; so that they end up being, worth the expression: "simulators of the good citizen", adding extra value to the educational experience resulting from its use.

Bibliographic references:

  • Aldrich, C. (2009). Learning online with games, simulations and virtual worlds: Strategies for online instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
  • Dede, Ch. (2009). "Inmersive Interfaces for Engagement and Learning". Science, Vol. 323, pp. 66-69.
  • Gértrudix Barrio, M. and Gértrudix Barrio, F. (2013). Learn playing. Open immersive worlds as learning spaces for young people. Journal of youth studies, 101, pp. 123-137.
  • Kapp, K. M & O'Driscoll, T. (2010). Learning in 3D: Adding a new dimension to enterprise learning and collaboration. s.l. : Pfeiffer.
  • Kaviar, S. (2013). Using Minecraft in the Classroom. Progressive Education Network National Conference: Los Angeles.
  • Sorathia, K. & Servidio, R. (2012). "Learning and Experience: Teaching Tangible Interaction & Edutainment". Proceia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 64, pp. 265-274.

Educational Kids Video Game Design Class in VA using Platinum Arts Sandbox Free 3D Game Maker (May 2021).


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